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Wills pushes for better quality PC service back-up

No school should have to make more than one phone call to get computer equipment fixed.

That was the strongly worded message Michael Wills, the learning and technology minister, gave to suppliers at last month's BETT educational technology exhibition in London.

He said the Government wanted to send a clear message to suppliers that they were funding ICT in schools generously and expected them to get the same service as customers in the private sector.

Mr Wills's "one phone call" pledge followed complaints from heads and ICT co-ordinators that they were having to make several calls to summon support personnel when terminals or networks developed faults.

A number of pilot projects based on successful schemes will be launched to try to giv schools better technical support, he said. Some can use staff from a central bank of experts, while other schools have trained support staff or the unemployed in IT. Training opportunities for post-16 students are another option being used.

In addition, Mr Wills said a procurement advisory service will be trialled later this year in five LEAs to give schools better advice and support when they buy ICT services.

Minimum standards for student access to ICT were also announced by the minister. By 2002, local education authorities have been asked to have at least one computer for every 11 pupils in each of their primary schools and one for every seven secondary students. Twenty per cent of schools must have broadband Internet connections.

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